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Showing posts from May, 2020

Prevent Plant Options for 2020

by Amber Roberts, Extension educator

For northwest Minnesota, wet conditions and cool soil temperatures have delayed planting. Farmers with federal crop insurance who have been unable to plant by the final planting date still have options. The first step for farmers is to contact your crop insurance agent to determine your prevent plant eligibility.

The final planting date for corn in northern counties is May 25 and for the rest of Minnesota is May 31. The final planting date for soybeans is June 10 for the entire state. The late planting period lasts 25 days after the crop’s final planting date, during which a 1% decrease in insurance guarantee is applied for every day the crop is not planted.

Map of Minnesota Planting Dates
After the final planting date, farmers who meet their crop insurance criteria and were unable to plant have the following options:

Late Planting
Insurable crops can still be planted during the late planting period. Farmers who chose to plant corn or soybeans after…

COVID-19 Response: Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and Silage

by Megan Roberts, Extension educator

Applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) opened on May 26, 2020 through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency. provides detailed information on the application process and program parameters, along with information on how to contact your local USDA service center. As farmers begin to apply for the program, questions have arose related to eligibility of commodities and the information needed for the application process. Today’s post addresses a topic that many dairy and beef producers have questioned: is silage eligible for CFAP?

While CFAP excludes “forages,” USDA is allowing producers to convert applicable silage (e.g. corn silage, oatlage, barlage, etc) to bushels of grain equivalent (1-CFAP, Par. 140). After conversion, the producer would then apply under the CFAP’s non-specialty crops payment structure for eligible grain bushels. For non-specialty crops, “producers will be pa…

COVID-19 Response: Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Application Period and Payment Details

by Megan Roberts, Extension educator

On May 19, 2020 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released full details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The CFAP program will help agricultural producers recoup partial losses due to the economic repercussions of COVID-19. Because USDA offices are not taking in-person appointments, farmers must call their local USDA service center to begin the application process with Farm Service Agency. Details on CFAP, including contact information for your local USDA service center, are available at The complete final rule (RIN 0503-AA65) is available in the Federal Register. Sign up begins May 26 Sign up via phone for CFAP begins Tuesday morning, May 26, 2020. Before then, USDA is encouraging producers that are not already enrolled in other Farm Service Agency programs to contact their local FSA and submit initial contact information, personal information including Tax Identification Number, farm operating s…

COVID-19 Response: Paycheck Protection Program Loans – Safe Harbor for Good Faith Certifications and Loan Forgiveness Details

by Rob Holcomb and Megan Roberts, Extension educators
In mid-May, the United States Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued guidance on two important issues related to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. In this blog post, we will briefly overview these two important notices: 1) loan forgiveness application details and 2) safe harbor for good faith certifications. The new guidance was generally good news for agricultural applicants, as most farms and other agricultural businesses fall under the new threshold for SBA audits on PPP, which we describe below. For general information about PPP, please see this previous blog post. Loan Forgiveness PPP loans gave borrowers the option to apply for loan forgiveness, essentially turning the flexible 2 year short-term, 1% low interest loan into a grant. But, loan forgiveness is not automatic and the application for forgiveness was not immediately known. On May 15, 2020, the Treasury and SBA issued the PPP loan forgiveness…

Don’t Forget About Mandatory Paid Leave and Employer Credits for COVID-19 Absences

by Rob Holcomb, EA, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020. The Families First Act provides mandatory paid leave for COVID-19 related absences and also provides employer credits for the aforementioned expenses. The following is a summary of information from both the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service regarding the required leave provisions. Please watch for a more detailed fact sheet in the coming days. Relevant web links are posted at the end of this document.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.[1] The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December…

Department of Treasury and Small Business Administration issue Safe Harbor rules for PPP Loan Good Faith Certifications

by Rob Holcomb, EA, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management
On May 13, 2020, the United States Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued safe harbor guidelines for recipients of Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans.When an applicant submits a PPP loan application, all borrowers must certify in good faith that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant.”
Previously, SBA and Treasury had communicated that applicants not meeting the uncertainty provisions of the loan should repay loan proceeds by May 14, 2020.The concern for many taxpayers participating in this program is “what qualifies as uncertainty?”
The PPP loan safe harbor states: “Any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.” This is good…

Women in Ag Network - April/May Feature

by Megan Roberts, Extension educator

As we continue to adapt to and live with the new normal of COVID-19, Women in Ag Network is continuing our series of “woman in ag” interviews. Although we can’t be together in person, we can connect to one another online, and our feature stories are great for an online, distance setting. This month we meet Natalie Utsch, the ag instructor and FFA advisor at Paynesville Area Schools. As secondary schools have transitioned to distance learning, agriculture teachers have had to become creative in meeting the needs of their students. Below we learn more about Natalie’s background, how she chose her career, and how she has ingeniously adapted her courses during COVID-19.
WAGN: Tell us about your background and how you chose your career.  Natalie: I grew up in St. James on a hobby farm. My sisters and I raised pigs that we showed at the fairs and grew/sold sweet corn with my grandparents. For the longest time I wanted to be a veterinarian and that helped me…

Extension Ag. Business Management Releases Online Farm Legal Series

NEWS RELEASE Media Contact: Robert Holcomb, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management, Regional Educator, Marshall Regional Extension Office,, 507-337-2807 Extension Ag. Business Management Releases Online Farm Legal Series St. Paul, MN(05/6/2020)—The University of Minnesota Extension Agricultural Business Management team has released a set of 23 fact sheets that address a variety of agricultural legal issues. The Farm Legal Series educates farmers on a variety of legal issues, including leases, business and farm entities, farm financing options, contracts, bankruptcy, water laws, security interests, liability and risk, tax considerations and more.

In the era of COVID-19, uncertainty in the farm business is the new normal. Legal risk is one of the five areas of risk management. These fact sheets were created to help producers mitigate risks associated with legal risk. While this series of fact sheets is not intended to remove the need for legal counsel, the …

COVID-19 Response: What is an EIDL?

by Megan Roberts, Extension educator

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)are not new, but for many farm businesses, they seem new. Previously, agricultural small businesses generally did not qualify for this type of loan from the Small Business Administration. Disaster relief programs for farms have typically been associated with the United States Department of Agriculture on the federal side, or the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on the state side. However, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, H.R. 266, signed into law on April 24, 2020, specifically made farms and ag businesses eligible for EIDLs. We cover farm eligibility in greater detail in a previous blog post.
 On May 4, 2020, the Small Business Administration opened a special application window for agricultural enterprises to apply for EIDLs and EIDL emergency advances. According to the SBA, the primary object of this special window is to process emergency loan advances. The emergency advances …